Colin Linden played a solo performance at Blue Frog Studios, a tiny recording studio in beautiful White Rock, B.C., and The Bus had a chance to be there. Colin is one-third of the iconic Canadian band Blackie and the Rodeo Kings. If you don’t know their music, I suggest you fire up YouTube and check out a couple songs. If you ever get back here, you will have a deep appreciation for what’s to follow.
I’ve had the opportunity to see both Tom Wilson and Stephen Fearing (the other two-thirds) as solos acts at the Frog so this would complete the trilogy, so to speak. Colin appears on stage within a semicircle of instruments waiting for his golden touch. His first selection is a ukelele and he launches into a two-hour set that keeps the audience spellbound. With an impressive catalogue of albums, a closet full of Junos and Maple Blues awards, and musical collaborations, productions and performances with a literal who’s-who of blues and rock icons (Bob Dylan, Leon Redbone, Plant & Krauss, Bruce Cockburn, Colin James, and The Band), Colin has established himself as one of Canada’s musical gems.
Colin the Musician
Having been heavily impressed with both Tom Wilson and Stephen Fearing when they each played here, it is now clear to me who the musical genius of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings is. Colin Linden is mesmerising. After a couple of songs, he switched to an acoustic guitar and things really heated up. Colin’s voice has a raspy, bluesy quality that grabs you, pulls you in and takes you on one epic ride. It gives the lyrics such rich urgency and fills the room like a whiskey’s warm burn. And he’s funny. As the stories flow and the names drop, you feel you’re privileged just to be here. It doesn’t matter if he’s note-picking, chord playing or blues sliding, IT. IS. AMAZING!
There’s a moment that comes in your life that changes something in you. That moment for me may very well have been when Colin picked up a beat up old Dobro guitar. He strummed a couple chords, and then started a wicked slide solo. The sounds coming from that guitar! The tones! Such a rich, resonating sound that just filled me with joy. That really struck a chord deep inside me. It took me a bit to realise I was holding my breath. Wow! Colin told a story about the guitar that was a gift from an artist whose album he was producing. It’s over 75 years old, looks beaten and forgotten, but sounds so good. The next half hour was a blur of slide and resonator plate and magic.
The Question Remains
The rest of the set just shows what passion Colin has for his craft and appreciation he holds for audiences that enable him to make a living creating that passion. With his incredible skills, Tom Wilson’s raw emotional energy and Stephen Fearing’s poetically soulful voice, can an appearance by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings be in the not-so-distant future for Blue Frog Studios? We can only hope, but the groundwork has been laid and the three have all expressed a love of the room’s beautiful sound.
If you haven’t seen Colin Linden live, he can be seen at the Edmonton Blues Festival on August 27th bluesinternationalltd.com/tickets-info
You can follow Colin on the socials at https://www.facebook.com/colin.linden.94/